Gender-Responsive Strategies: Research, Practice, and Guiding Principles for Women Offenders

Barbara Bloom, Sonoma State University
Barbara Owen, California State University - Fresno
Stephanie Covington, Center for Gender and Justice

The number of women under criminal justice supervision in the United States reached over one million in 2001. In response, contemporary corrections has begun to consider the best way to effectively respond to women offenders. Female offenders are now a significant proportion of all offenders: they comprise 17 percent of the total number of offenders under correctional supervision, or one in every six offenders. These numbers have lead to a reexamination of the ways in which correctional policy and practice affect the female offender. This paper summarizes current knowledge about women in the criminal justice system and develops a set of guidelines designed to improve policy and practice regarding women. Strategies that consider the specifics of women offenders have come to be known as "gender-responsive" approaches. By documenting the importance of gender and the specific differences between female and male offenders in developing supervision and service strategies for women offenders, this paper provides the foundation for a gender-and culturally-responsive criminal justice system

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Updated 05/20/2006